The editors of PortugalFutbol.net and FutebolFactory.com are proud to announce our annual list of 10 players to watch this season. After much deliberation, we whittled down the pool of talented domestic players to ten, but couldn’t help but add some honorable mentions. These are players who we believe have a realistic shot at making it to the senior Portuguese National Team by the end of the season. So, without further ado, here’s the 2016/2017 edition of “10 Players Who Can Break Out This Season.” Continue reading
Portugal’s performance at the FIFA U20 World Cup and UEFA U21 European Championships strengthened the perception that Portuguese football is on the ascendency once again.
Andre Gomes, William Carvalho and Bernardo Silva are just some of the players that have established themselves over the past few seasons. The editors of FutebolFactory.com and PortugalFutbol.net have compiled a list of ten players who they think could make a big breakthrough this season. Continue reading
Portugal 2-1 Ghana
World Cup Group G
Despite performing much better and defeating Ghana 2-1 in their final World Cup group stage match, Portugal has crashed out of the tournament, edged out on goal difference by the United States of America. A very tough task to overcome a 4-0 defeat in their opening match, the team never managed to fully recover, drawing the United States in their next match. The team can now look towards qualifying for Euro 2016, which should be much easier than in previous tournaments, due to the increase in number of teams at the European Championships.
Paulo Bento had to choose a team which was still ravaged by injuries. Beto again resumed his spot in goal in place of the injured Rui Patricio. In front of Beto were the usual center back pairing of Bruno Alves and Pepe, the latter of which returned to the team after his one-match suspension for his antics in the Germany match. Joao Pereira set up shop on the right of defense, and in the absence of Fabio Coentrao, Miguel Veloso moved to left-defender, a clear sign of attacking intent from Bento. In the midfield, Bento dropped Raul Meireles to the bench, leaving a middle three of Joao Moutinho, Ruben Amorim, and William Carvalho. On the wings were the usual suspects of Ronaldo and Nani, with Eder starting up top.
In stark contrast to the team’s first two matches, Portugal performed quite brightly. One could say that they finally played to their potential. The game started brightly for the Portuguese, with many of the chances in the first part of the half going in Portugal’s favor. Ronaldo was closer to his scintillating form which played a big part in Portugal qualifying. And it was the Real Madrid man who was behind many of Portugal’s chances in the first half. Finally, Portugal was rewarded for their fine play just before the half. Some sublime skill from Joao Moutinho set up a cross for Miguel Veloso. His cross was whipped into the box, only for Ghana defender John Boye’s botched clearance to loop into the back of the net. That own goal gave Portugal a well-deserved 1-0 lead coming into the half.
Knowing that a loss would eliminate them from the competition, Ghana pressed more in the second half. Despite chances coming to both sides, it was Ghana who struck next. A beautiful cross from Andre Ayew fell perfectly to the head of Asamoah Gyan. His header slipped past an out-stretched Beto and into the back of the next to level the scores at 1-1. From that point onward, Portugal pushed forward in search for a winner. Despite being thwarted a number of times by Ghana’s goalkeeper, Portugal finally found their winner through their captain and talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo. Nani fired a cross into Ghana’s box. A miscued header sent the ball straight up into the air. When the ball fell down, Ghana’s goalkeeper, with his first mistake of the night, punched the ball directly to Ronaldo, who fired the ball home. After that goal, Portugal continued pressing, and could have extended the scoreline further, if it wasn’t for heroics from the Ghana goalkeeper and profligacy in front of goal. That was how the game ended: a 2-1 Portuguese victory, but it was not enough for the team to progress in the tournament.
Beto(Eduardo), Joao Pereira(Varela), Miguel Veloso, Bruno Alves, Pepe, William Carvalho, Ruben Amorim, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Ronaldo, Eder(Vieirinha)
One of the chief criticisms of Portugal National Team boss Paulo Bento has been on his over-reliance on established players over new, up-and-coming talent. Bento would consistently pick the same players game after game, sometimes regardless of their club performances, while overlooking in-form younger players. Though the team has been wildly successful as compared to his predecessor, Carlos Queiroz’s, campaign, supporters of the team still find his player selection frustrating. This may all be changing, however.
For the games against Northern Ireland and Brazil later this week and next week, respectively, there appears to be a shift in the norm. Bento has begun calling up a new generation of players, an easy decision given the circumstances. In the 23 selected, there are four who have never made an appearance for the Seleccao, and a further five who have less than 10 caps. Players such as Lica and Josue (who have been stellar for Porto so far this season), Adrien and Andre Martins (who have been equally impressive for a new-look Sporting team), and Anthony Lopes, Antunes, and Neto (who are all starters in the top flights of France, Spain, and Russia, respectively) are all new to the team, and could very easily be important players by the time the 2014 World Cup rolls around.
A prime example of the shift from the old to the new is Luis Neto. After a stellar 2010-2011 season at second-division Varzim, Neto was snapped up by Nacional, in the Portuguese top flight. At Nacional, the central defender blossomed, instantly becoming the club’s most important player. His performances certainly did not go unnoticed, and Neto was transferred to Serie A club Siena for the 2012-2013 season. His performances for the struggling Siena were impressive enough that, after just over half-a-season later, he was transferred to Russian powerhouse Zenit St. Petersburg. At Zenit, he joined fellow compatriots Danny and Bruno Alves. Neto was almost immediately thrown into the starting lineup, and has since excelled. Only aged 25, Neto has established himself as a player on the rise in the world of football. The momentum has propelled him into national team action. As stated above, his performances had not gone unnoticed, and Paulo Bento surely noticed. Soon after his move to Zenit, Neto made his debut for the Seleccao, in a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Ecuador. It is widely understood that Neto will be the successor to Bruno Alves for the Seleccao. While the career of Alves, currently 31, is not over, he is most certainly in decline.
Though the perception of Paulo Bento is that his team selections are unfair and full of bias, that may all be changing. With the inclusions in this squad of four previously uncapped players in Lica, Josue, Anthony Lopes, and Adrien Silva, the momentum appears to be shifting. This is a natural process, and one that Portugal needs to accomplish if it has any hope of being competitive in the future.
English Premier League giants Everton have loaned out their U-21 international, Joao Silva, to UD Leiria, for the remainder of the season. Joao Silva moved from Aves, in the Liga Orangina, to Everton, in the English Premier League, over the summer for a fee believed to be around 1 million pounds. Silva has since not found any playing time at the club, although his talent has been shown well for the Portuguese Under-21 team. Joao Silva broke onto the Portuguese football scene last season after he finished the season (his debut season) in second overall on the goalscoring charts for the Liga Vitalis. Everton were quick to snap him up, and after an assuring pre-season, Silva was given a first team number, and has spent much of his time with the first team. Now, he will join Lieira on loan, where he will hope to gain some playing time.
Quaresma will replace the injured Cristiano Ronaldo for the Seleccao’s upcoming Euro 2012 qualification matches. Portugal will face Cyprus first (at home), then Norway (away), and they will have to do it without their captain. Quaresma, who was one of the three reserves, has been called into action to replace the injured captain. Ronaldo was injured in Real Madrid’s 0-0 draw against Mallorca in the Spanish League on Sunday and is expected to be out for up to three weeks. Meanwhile, Silvestre Varela was withdrawn from the Porto-Rio Ave game due to an injury. The Porto medical staff says that they’re still assessing the extent of his injury. In the event that he is withdrawn from the squad, Paulo Machado will be his replacement.
It’s official. I’m sorry to say it’s official. The Portuguese injury list continues to grow. First Bosingwa, then Varela and Ruben Micael, and now Nani. When I saw this, I was absolutely shell shocked. Nani will miss the 2010 FIFA World Cup due to an injury in his shoulder at a training session. He has been in almost tantalizing form for club and country as of late. He was arguably the best performer against Cape Verde and Cameroon, and his heroics at United have earned him a contract extension. I fell quite sorry for him as this will be his first World Cup, and with the form he is currently in, I have no doubt that he would have raised some eyebrows. His replacement will be Ruben Amorim, of Benfica, who has been told to pack his bags immediately. It now looks like Duda will mainly be used as a left winger, not a left-back. Instead, Fabio Coentrao will most likely be the starting left-back. Amorim will most likely be used as a wing-back, either on left or right, but it looks more likely that he will be a backup for Coentrao on the left.